Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the McKenna bird house

Maybe it isn't to shelter Terance McKenna's next incarnation, but coming out of a labyrinth and seeing it, and the rainbow paint job makes me think otherwise.

I'll post more about the labyrinth later.

recalling a long path

It's more fun for me to play 'six degrees of separation' with the association of ideas instead of celebrities.
Can you tell I was a kid who spent summer afternoons reading the encyclopedia?

Google has made it easy to self educate by 'links ... but I suppose you need the inquiring mind as well. I thought it might be fun to journal my latest wanderings ... so here is a log of the trail of associations I followed yesterday, and what I found there:

Begin here:
Melinda's sunflower photo (yesterday's post)...

(What I love about the photo was) the spiral arrangement of seeds in the sunflower
(which is a ) Fibonacci sequence ...
Also called the Golden Spiral...
Coincidence: Blake's illustration of a golden spiral staircase going up to heaven...
(you can see it in the 'Ah Sunflower' video I just posted)

(The Golden Spiral makes me think of)labyrinths...
(Which made me recall) the second labyrinth I've walked.
Let me digress: It was earlier in the summer when I was in the Traverse City area to attend my nephew's, (yes, the sunflower planter) Melinda's son's wedding.
Earlier in the year I'd found a little newspaper article online with a mention of a private property on the Mission Peninsula where the owners had made a labyrinth and allowed the public to walk it.
I asked the owner of the bed and breakfast inn where I was staying if they knew of this labyrinth, and amazingly enough Bob had heard of it and directed me to where to find it. Just a few miles away.
I would have never found it on my own.

Good to ask for directions.
This must be one of those parts of the trail where it loops back before heading on again. I've been meaning to post some photos of that labyrinth. Which I still promise to do...
Photos including the charming, humorous, sly... rainbow painted 'McKenna' birdhouse positioned near the approach to the labyrinth.

Are we there yet?
No, just a turn on the trail.
Coincidence: Last night while I was making dinner and listening to the podcast of Thom Hartman's program, a caller mentioned... Terance McKenna ...
Spooky, huh? How many times do you think of Terance McKenna in one day? McKenna must be knocking on my door.

So I Googled videos of McKenna. You can too.
One video has him saying: "culture is not your friend." (How true.)
McKenna's answer? Make art.

Are we there yet?
Maybe this is near the 'center', where the trail turns back home.
Sit a minute and gather your thoughts.

There is mention of 'demi-urge' in McKenna's discussion.
Coincidence: I just saw that very word this morning and had meant to look it up.
Now, how many time do you run across the word demiurge? Where in the heck did I see it! That word is knocking at my door along with McKenna.

A Robert Frost poem. I saw the word in Frost.
I had been looking up Blake's 'Ah Sunflower' poem to post with Melinda's sunflower photos. So how did I get from Blake to Frost?
Through Wendell Berry.
Can you believe it.

This must be a side track, but sometimes detours can be fun.
When I was looking up Blake, I saw my copy of Berry's collection of poems, "Farming: a Handbook", and loving Berry, I stopped to read a little Berry before going on to Blake. Berry wrote 'Manifesto: The Mad Farmer's Liberation Front', one of my favorite charming, humorous, sly poems. You should look it up.

Anyway, on the front page of Chapter 2, Berry quotes lines from Robert Frost's 'Build Soil'

"I bid you to a one-man revolution__
The only revolution that is coming.
We're too unseparate.
and going home
From company means coming to our senses."

'One Man Revolution' is a track on one of my favorite albums of recent memory, The Night Watchman, by Tom Morello. I had no idea the phrase came from Robert Frost.

Interesting! So I looked up Frost's 'Build Soil'.
Building soil is a good idea, the very key to gardening and healthy food. But I'm going down another path. Back on the path to rediscovering where I saw the word demiurge.

I had been looking for 'Build Soil' but ran across the poem I posted yesterday with the sunflower photos, 'A Prayer in Spring', from Robert Frost's collection of poems "A Boy's Will". In the same collection, I ran across 'The Demiurge's Laugh'...
now I had to look up the word.

Google: demiurge.

Wikipedia: The Demiurge of Neoplatonism is the Nous (mind of God), and is one of the three ordering principles:
arche (Gr. "beginning") - the source of all things,
logos (Gr. "word") - the underlying order that is hidden beneath appearances,
harmonia (Gr. "harmony") - numerical ratios in mathematics.
(... also related to concepts in... Judaism, gnosticism, Russian philosophy, a Phillip Dick novel, video games.)
And, of course, for me, beginning, words, and harmony relate to some ideas I love to dwell on, manifested in labyrinths and poetry.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
NOUN: The doctrines of certain pre-Christian pagan, Jewish, and early Christian sects that valued the revealed knowledge of God and of the origin and end of the human race as a means to attain redemption for the spiritual element in humans and that distinguished the Demiurge from the unknowable Divine Being.

Pretty much, Demiurge is defined as the creative force of the physical universe, the spirit that is blocked by such structured thought process as organized religion. Is that why McKenna said, make art?
Knocking on the door ...

Now I'll go find that Terance McKenna birdhouse photo.

Ah, Sunflower

Here is an nice version of the Blake sunflower poem, set to music, illustration by William Blake. One of the original end of summer songs, one of Blake's Songs of Experience.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ah, Sunflower

...and bee.

I was looking for Blake's appropriate poem to post with Melinda's wonderful sunflower photos above, but ran across this one by Frost that I like as well. It's a spring poem but the message is just as timely right now at the end of another summer.
(Thanks for letting me post your photos, Melinda!)

A Prayer in Spring

by Robert Frost (1915)

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A White House lawn that produces something

Well, a few days ago Herb and I were listening to the Across The Great Divide radio program on KPFA public radio (we listen online, as the local programming is many times so trite and boring). We ended up discussing, as senior citizens will do, the question of whether the younger generations will have any concept of who Woody Guthrie was and the relevance of his times to our own.
Then this week I opened up an e-mail from Kitchen Gardeners International, and there on the Youtube video that Roger Doiron produced as a part of his scheme to promote kitchen gardens in front yards, beginning with The White House (or, shall I say, OUR White House) was the voice from the past, Woody Guthrie singing his most well known folk song, This Land Is Your Land.

How populist.
How did we forget so many sustainable ways of living in such a short time?
But we live in an age when Newt Gingrich says his goal in life is to rescind the New Deal, and Rush Limbaugh says 'Roosevelt is dead and we're getting rid of his programs as well', and our twice "elected" president thinks he won a mandate to end Social Security while Congress guts New Deal financial regulations, and a candidate can run for office while voting against children's health and education programs without risking the slightest blow back from his self-described "moral voters".
The New Deal worked, and any politician worth his salt should look at what some of those programs were, and give We The People an updated new deal. We've been getting a raw deal under Reaganomics.

more caterpillar tale

... or, how dumb could I be?

So the little (but growing) green guy, after a week of feeding on three meals a day and a snack, was suddenly uninterested in his tomato leaf fare. I thought, oh good, he's going to do his metamorphosing thing soon, maybe hang himself from the netting of his cage and spin a cocoon or ooze himself a shiny pupa coat. It was time.
For hours into a day he roamed the walls of his small bug hotel making a distinct chewing noise, so loud that Herb even noticed it from his breakfast table. The cat stood on her hind paws, listening, watching.

I began to worry, thinking maybe his color wasn't looking so healthy green? maybe he was thirsty? Do caterpillars need water? I didn't know...
(duh) So as last resort, or as they say, when all else fails LOOK IT UP.

The photo above is of my very handy Peterson First Guides Caterpillars (by Amy Bartlett Wright) field guide. See the little brown pupa case? Now where have I seen those little brown pupa cases before? Yes, while digging in the garden. The light bulb above my head when on.
I looked in the section on rearing caterpillars, and there was the answer to my caterpillar's unhappy wandering ... if you are rearing a caterpillar that pupates in the soil, you must keep him in something with an inch or so of soil for him to dig down into! Who knew.

My new dilemma: not wanting to be the one responsible for bringing a tomato pest into Herb's garden, I couldn't let the little guy loose in the backyard, could I? So I plopped him out of the bug hotel onto the bedding of my worm bin.

Oh Happy Day! As soon as he hit soil, he started digging and within three minutes he was buried in the worm bedding. You can just see in the photo his green little horned tail sticking up as he worms his way down to finish his transformation in the dark privacy of the underground.
I dug down the next day to see what shape he was in, but I haven't found him yet. I don't know what the timing is for this part of his life cycle and the book didn't say. If he succeeds in pupating to a moth I'll let you know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Call me Bugs

At the organic gardening class at Pat's CSA farm last Friday I found a tomato hornworm (caterpillar) and brought it home to learn more about. Someone said it would pupate into a "hummingbird moth" (one of the clearwing moths), but she's wrong. The tomato hornworm pupates into one of the Sphinx moths. You can tell the difference by the way the stripes are arranged on the caterpillar.
I put him in Kayla's dollar store bug cage and fed him fresh tomato leaves three or four times a day.
... and he grew like Topsy!

Boy do hornworms poop!

Tony says he detests tomato hornworms, but I think they're kinda cute ... doesn't he look like the hookah smoking caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland?

enough about wasps already

Okay, enough, but one more photo in the wasp saga...

Last week, after treating the yellow jackets' nest in the ground for the third time, and going out to scout it one more time, Herb found what looked like a real mess that only (who else?) I could have made and left in the yard.
The photo above shows what wild animals, skunks and raccoons and so on who apparently don't fear wasp swarms as we humans do, what these animals do when they come upon a nest of killed wasps - dinner!
Sometime during the night some animal had come along and found the nest and eaten all of the dead wasp bodies, and pulled the layered sheets of the nest out of the hole to eat whatever protein was there. Interesting, huh?
(Sorry, not a very good photo, but maybe you can see the mess, and make out the layers of nest.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

the predatory wasp coincidence

Sufjan Stevens performing on a youtube video... I'm posting more of his work on my cranky blog.
I fell asleep on the couch last night watching a lame edition of Michigan 'capital correspondent' Tim Skubik's talking heads news commentary program that I can never recall the name of until three minutes after I need it, and woke up to the ear worm music of Sufjan Stevens and his flock of butterflies playing on Austin City Limits.
I listened and went to bed but this morning woke up with Sufjan's Detroit song repeating in my brain. Now this group played my favorite Christmas song of 2007, and I may have posted it somewhere, so I thought it was time to Google Sufjan Stevens again.
First thing I saw on Youtube was this wasp story and song. The coincidence? I've been mulling whether to post a photo of the dead pile of yellow jackets is the hole we had to "treat". I felt so bad for all of that little community's sacrifice to my safety. I wish Geeorge and Dick had one tenth of a conscience in their destruction of communities, animal, vegetable, and human, here and abroad, in my name but without my permission.
But I digress, here's the music, suitable for a late summer morning in Michigan.
En joy.

Live performance, amateur video, but it must be a trip to be there in person for a Sufjan Stevens performance. More polished stuff is on the cranky michigan greenie blog, but you can link in and find more professional videos on Youtube by clicking on the video.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

GTS - setting the painted lady free

Part two of my painted lady butterfly saga began this morning. It had hatched overnight. In one of these photos you can see the spent chrysalis hanging on the netting.

I thought about keeping it for Kayla and Aubrey to see late this afternoon, but would it be weakened by the wait? I don't know.... so I let it go.

I opened the door of my little hatching box and placed it near the African Blue Basil, wouldn't you think a butterfly would be attracted to that fragrance? I turned my back for a minute and it was gone! I caught a flash of orange in the corner of my eye. Must not have wanted to stick around for the rest of the photo shoot.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Bald faced hornet nest

It really seemed to appear out of nowhere overnight no matter what Howard says! If you click to enlarge the photo, you can see a pretty good view of a bald faced hornet.

Very near the driveway, it has to go. I know, they're pollinators, but they chose the wrong spot for their nest. We also have a yellow jacket nest in the ground that looks exceedingly dangerous. Herb got stung by one, luckily only one, while mowing, and 2 year old Kayla almost ran into it while she was chasing the kitty. Sorry, its gotta go.

I almost hated to post this picture with that chlorotic maple. It is the bane of my gardening existence. I won it in a neighborhood yard and garden contest years ago, and it has never been right. Apparently it is one Maple cultivar that is particularly prone to chlorosis. It looks good in the winter, half the year here, but someday it's firewood.